Tennis: Kei Nishikori, Naomi Osaka reach U.S. Open semifinals

Japan’s Kei Nishikori outlasted Marin Cilic of Croatia 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 in a four-hour showdown Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open.

In the preceding match at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese woman ever to reach the semis in the U.S. Open women’s draw after beating unseeded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-1. She is also the first to reach the last four of any Grand Slam since Kimiko Date’s semifinal appearance at Wimbledon in 1996.

On another day of punishing heat and humidity in New York, the world No. 19 Nishikori overcame an early deficit to pull out a five-set win against Cilic, who bested him here in the 2014 final.

«It was really tough, especially in the end,» Nishikori said. «I don’t know why but we always play full sets, so it’s always a battle with Marin. It was great tennis today.»

Cilic, currently ranked 7th, fired two consecutive aces to open the match and capitalized on Nishikori’s errors to go up a set and a break.

The 28-year-old Japanese captured six games in a row to level the match and seize an early advantage in the third set, which he won in a tiebreaker with help from two double faults in a row by Cilic.

Though Cilic leveled at two sets apiece after the match crossed the three-hour mark, Nishikori hung on to grab the decisive break, dishing out a forehand return winner to seal the win.

«I tried to fight on every point, even though I was really tired,» Nishikori said.

In the women’s draw, the 19th-ranked Osaka powered past her opponent in just under an hour.

When Tsurenko saw her only a glimmer of hope in a triple break chance at 4-1 in the second set, Osaka fought back and won the second deuce to hold serve. The 20-year-old Osaka then secured a final break to close out the match.

«It means a lot,» Osaka said of her historic win. «I was freaking out inside. My entire body was shaking, so I’m really glad I was able to play well today.»

Osaka, who won her first title in March at Indian Wells, will face either American Madison Keys or Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain in the semifinals.

All — Kyodo News+

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